Monday, July 10, 2006

Dead Air - Iain Banks

The Basics: Dead Air, Iain Banks, 2002, 485 pages, paperback.

How I found it: I was randomly browsing through the shelves of the local used bookstore a few months ago and for some reason I picked it up. I'm really not sure what it was that called to me - I can't remember anymore.

What's it about?: The protagonist is Ken Nott, a left-wing radio shock jock who is muddling through life in London in a post 9/11 world. The many-threaded plot centers around Ken's relationships with women and his friends, and the trouble his big mouth gets him into.

Did I like it?: Not really. It started off well with lots of carefully-crafted dialogue sections. The paint by numbers plot soon got me down, however. Banks only seems to introduce plot elements and characters so that he can create a very obvious story arc with them that is neatly tied up further on into the novel. As well, Ken's big-mouth ways and rants just seem like an excuse for Banks to give his opinion on 21st century politics under the guise of a character.

Will you like it?: Apparently Banks mostly writes science fiction and this is one of his few 'regular' novels. Perhaps that should have been my first clue. The book is not terribly written, but it does suffer from some hideous plot devices. In my opinion, the last 200 pages are hideous and wouldn't even make a good B movie. Things really go downhill after Banks includes yet another idiotic plot situation for his protagonist to scramble out of. This would be a good beach book, but other than that, I'd say avoid it.

But don't take my word for it: Some readers on have the same sentiments I do, while others are literary idiots, a reviewer from seems to share my views, as does one from the Guardian.

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